We went to Well Done cooking school last weekend and learned how to make crepes.
OMG, as the title suggests, crepes were sooooo much easier than we anticipated.
But – could we replicate our success at home, without our excellent coach, Chef Mark, looking over our shoulders?
Yes, we could.
I got all test kitchen optimistic on Sunday evening and decided to do a surf and turf crepes approach for dinner. This was while also cleaning up from making our Beyond Banana Bread and some cherry coffeecake bites at around midday and creating a HUGE mess in the kitchen, and simultaneously refinishing the antique breakfast room table – inside the house.
It was all a bit chaotic, my friends.
It still is.
The table has two sandings and two coats of varnish to go.
But this is about crepes, not my 80-year old breakfast table. One driver for the surf and turf crepes menu choice on Sunday was avoiding a grocery store run in the hopes of using up foodstuffs we already had. I found a half pound of peeled and deveined shrimp in the freezer, and a pound of high-class, sustainably raised ground pork from our local farmers’ market. If I couldn’t make tasty filling for crepes with those ingredients, I shouldn’t be messing around with test kitchen ideas at all. Ever.
It was a great experiment, and we were happy with the results.
Join Me in the Glover Gardens Test Kitchen
Our chef / teacher at the class said that the first crepe is always bad and ugly, like the first pancake. Agreed!
While I was cooking the batch of crepes, I also made the two fillings, my surf and turf approach.
Zippy Sicilian Shrimp, Pesto and Peas Crepes
Here’s the process for filling the shrimp crepes.
Zippy Southwest Pork Crepes with Salsa Macha
The pork filling was ground pork, green onions, sliced black olives, corn scraped off the cob, ricotta, thick-shredded cheddar and jack cheese, and our Zippy Southwest seasoning mix. And filling the crepe started with red onions and a dollop of Salsa Macha from Lolita Specialty Foods. OMG, it was so good!
The Results are In: Surf and Turf Crepes Experiment Worked
Everything I did, I did in a hurry on Sunday night. In addition to the chaos I described above with the giant baking mess and the refinishing of the breakfast table, I should have mentioned that we also took our daily 30-min. walk and enjoyed our weekend tradition of about 45 minutes in the hot tub. I didn’t even start making dinner until about 7:15 p.m.
But the results of the grand surf and turf crepes experiment were great! That’s one of our plates on Sunday night. The sauces are pesto (for the shrimp) and salsa macha (for the pork).
Posing for Pics on Day 2
The next day, we were (of course) having leftover crepes, and I did a quick photo shoot of each of them, cold.
Just Gotta Garnish
You may know that I’m a big fan of garnishes, not just for looks but for the fresh, bright flavors they bring. I did a very early Glover Gardens blog post about that very thing.
I had a plethora of garnishes ready for the crepes.
But sometimes, from a photo standpoint, I over-garnish. This is what the shrimp crepe actually looked like on my dinner plate – a little chaotic! But so delicious!
I learned a few things during my experimentation, and remembered a few more things that were covered in our class:
- Size matters. My crepes we as big as I would ever want them to be, in a ten-inch pan. I want to get a smaller pan for this purpose, and make slightly smaller crepes. They are actually much more filling that you think.
- A pan with a long handle is better than a pan with little side handles like the one I used at home. It’s easier to swirl the batter in the hot pan if you have a pan with a single long handle like we did in the class. Check out the picture below from the class last Saturday to see what kind of pan I want. The edges of the crepes are smoother because the pan is smaller and the batter was swirled to the edges of the pan.
- Cooking a crepe (of this size, at least) takes about 2 minutes per side. The instructor said, “cook until it looks dry, then turn it”. I found that I could walk away and do quite a lot in two minutes, and didn’t burn a single crepe.
- Using a ladle to dole out the batter onto the skillet works very well. My ladle was probably a little bigger than the one in the class which were were instructed to fill 3/4 full, which means I probably should have filled mine about half full to make the crepes.
- Swirl the batter in the pan as soon as you drop it in. This will give you an evenly distributed crepe.
- Be sure to use enough butter to coat the pan before each crepe.
- A thin batter turns out a fine crepe. I was a little nervous that my batter was too thin because the recipe I used called for water, which some recipes I checked didn’t have, but it was just fine.
- Season the fillings aggressively, because a crepe is inherently bland.
- Each individual crepe is like a snowflake, totally different from every other one. Always put the fillings on the less pretty side before rolling or folding your crepe.
- An infrared stove leaves weird browing marks / circles on the crepes.
- Crepes are satisfying and appealing whether they’re folded or rolled, but folding works better with chunky filling items like whole shrimp. If I wanted to roll the shrimp crepes, I’d have chopped the shrimp before filling the crepes. I didn’t want to take the time, but they turned out great with the folded approach. You can eat a folded crepe with your hands, if there’s not a messy sauce. That’s what we did with the ham and cheese crepes we made at the cooking class (on the right below).
The Bottom Line: Crepes are in the Permanent Repertoire at Glover Gardens
The Grill-Meister gave both dishes the thumbs-up for the permanent repertoire, and crepes in general, too, so I’ll make them again and document the recipe more fully to share it here.
The Bottom Line is that crepes are easy and fun, and as our instructor Chef Mark said, “they’re like a Swiss Army knife”. You can do a lot with them.
I’m planning to! I’ll definitely get adventurous with savory crepes, and plan to do some vegetarian ones, too.
Do YOU have any ideas about interesting crepes fillings we should try?
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